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Deciding When to Change Your Garage Door Operator

Your garage door operator is the brains of the whole garage door operation, so to speak. The operator is what does the heavy lifting to open and close your door. When your garage door operator gets old and starts to malfunction, it can be an annoyance as well as a safety hazard. Door Systems, Inc. has put together some tips on deciding if you need to upgrade your garage door operator.

garage door operator collage

What is a garage door operator?

Many people call the garage door operator an opener, but they are actually two different things. The garage door operator is the component that is fastened to your garage ceiling with pulleys that lift and lower the garage door. The garage door opener is any remote, keypad, or button that signals the garage door operator to lift the garage door open. While you can upgrade your remotes and buttons easily, often people ignore the garage door operator until a break occurs. But when your garage door operator is what does the lifting, it is important to make sure you operator is modern and functioning correctly.

What are the signs I need to upgrade my garage door operator?

The first sign (and we have often seen this) is if your garage door operator is more than 30 years old. Some houses will have an original Chamberlain, Genie, or Liftmaster operator that is bright orange in line with the designs of the 1970s. Trust us, we have installed many of these operators working as garage door technicians in the seventies! But now garage door openers have a lot more functionality and safety features. Some signs that you need to upgrade your operator include:

  • Noisy operation. If your garage door operator drowns out the sound of the television or wakes people up at night, your operator is probably outdated. The noise comes from a chain drive to open and close the door. Nowadays, operators use a belt drive or screw drive for quieter and more effective operation. Look for a chain that looks like it belongs on a bicycle near the operator.
  • Keypad installation. Many people love the convenience of having a keypad opener on your garage door. This is helpful when you don’t have keys or need a repairman to get into your house when you are at work. However older garage door operators cannot function with keypads.
  • Battery backups. When the power goes out, old garage door operators will not open unless you manually lift and close the door. This can be dangerous, especially in inclement weather. New operators will have a battery backup allowing you to operate your garage door as you normally would.
  • System reverse. For safety reasons, all garage doors installed after 1993 have safety sensors that talk to the garage door operator. If there is an object in the way of the garage door closing, the operator will stop the garage door from closing and roll it back open. If your operator was installed before 1993, it will not be compatible with safety sensors.

How do I decide between replacing and repairing my garage door operator?

If you have noticed your garage door opening slowly, looking off balance, or not opening and closing on command, you may be considering replacing your operator. However you may not need a full replacement. Always have a professional garage door technician take a look at your garage door operator before making a decision about the kind of repair or replacement you need. Your technician may recommend a repair instead, saving you some money.

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